The economy has recovered, and is steadily growing. That much is now clear. It has long been assumed that this will help the Conservative Party’s electoral fortunes. The logic goes that, having steered the country through difficult economic times, a grateful public will come out in their droves to thank them for it. But politics is never that simple, and the public are rarely so willing to give credit to politicians. While it may seem perverse to suggest that economic growth is harming the Tories’ electoral chances, continuing good news about the economy is making it less of an electoral issue. Voters are beginning to ask: ‘what next?’
David Cameron and the Conservatives are experiencing a voteless recovery. The economy is getting better, but their position in the polls is not – or at least not dramatically. Labour holds a lead over the Conservatives, as they have done in every single ComRes poll since February 2012. It is true that things have slightly narrowed since the heady days of the ‘omnishambles’, but not yet enough.
So, if the economy is getting better, why are voters not rewarding the Conservatives? Indeed, just one in three Britons believe that the economy is improving ‘thanks in part to this government’s policies’.
The truth is that politicians – of any creed – get very little credit for success. Voters tend to move on to the next problem. It seems increasingly likely that, despite all predictions that the 2015 General Election will be won and lost on the economy, the debate may have moved on by then.
Indeed, we are already seeing the economy fall away as an important issue to voters: our polling in the 40 most marginal constituencies found ‘protecting the economic recovery’ to be behind the NHS, immigration and keeping down the cost of everyday items as the most important issues that will shape voters’ decision next year.